(David’s note: We’re starting a new series here at the 2.0 Life, called “What’s in Your Browser?” The browser, it seems, is the new go-bag: everyone’s got it customized, right down to the nitty-gritty, to help them browse better, or faster, or more productively.
We all use browsers differently, and I get a kick out of seeing how other people have customized the “same” browser I use, sometimes to the point you can’t even tell it’s the same.
Our first submission comes from a regular contributor to The 2.0 Life, Squealing Rat.
If you didn’t guess, I use Firefox. The main reason to use Firefox is the extensions. Extensions allow you to add your own personal touch to Firefox. More popular extensions include those that block ads, download content and add the weather to the sidebar. But I will go into the depths of extensions later.
If you find yourself without the need for wonderful ways to expand your browsing experience, find yourself needing simplicity, don’t lose hope. There are others. Pretty darn good entries in the race I might add. Those would be Chrome and Safari. Chrome is Google’s browser. It works the best on PCs, and is very fast. The Mac version is not as polished, but still does a fine job, which leads us to the second contender. Safari. Safari is Apple’s default browser on the Mac is sleek and nearly identical to Chrome.
But I won’t dive into the browser wars when there is so much more that can be discussed.
I love extensions. Extensions, also known as add-ons, are a crucial part of Firefox. Some argue that the reason Firefox is popular is because of extensions. Extensions allow you to customize your browser. To extend your browser to fit your needs. For example, if Groucho Marx constantly checks the weather, he might want to add a small 5 day weather forecast to the top of his browser. This can be done easily in Firefox. If you visit the Firefox extension website, you can browse over 5,000 free extensions. Some add things to web pages that you change the view, some edit the look of your browser, and some work behind the scenes, making it all work. Let me take you though the extensions I use.
Lazarus – Lazarus is an extension I could not live without. I was recently using Safari, filling in a long form and accidentally closed the window. Oh, no problemo, I thought. Lazarus is there. But because I was using Safari, which does not have the same vast library of extensions, I lost the data. Lazarus is the safety net under trapeze artists in the circus.
It works silently behind the scenes, backing all of your creative reviews, forms, and entries in web windows, and if you should slip and fall (i.e. close your session), Lazarus is there. Lazarus can quickly restore the text that you entered. As to the security of it all, Lazarus stores your text on your computer. Your data is as safe as your computer.
Xmarks – Xmarks, formerly known as Foxmarks, is a service that backs up and syncs all of your bookmarks to all of your computers. It is nice to have in case your hard drive crashes. However, if you have a lot of bookmarks like me (about 8 MBs, which is a lot) you might experience some pauses in your browsing experience, a minor, but annoying drawback. All in all, though, it’s the best way to keep your bookmarks handy and safe.
Stylish – I was hoping someone would ask why in my previous article, did my browser (Firefox for Mac) show favicons. Favicons are little icons that represent each browsing window. On a PC, you see them next to each tab, and next to each bookmark. Favicons allow you to quickly identify the tab or bookmark you would like to open. Unfortunately, by default, Firefox on Macs does not show favicons. So, after a bit of researching, I discovered that a extension called Stylish could help.
By itself, Stylish is a mere icon on the bottom of your screen. But, add a “style” to the extension, and you can expand your browser. One style, “Mac bookmark toolbar favicon”, adds the favicons to your bookmarks toolbar and tabs. Only problem: sites that are too lazy to add a favicon and java script bookmarks that do not have a favicon. Still, this is a fabulous way to free up space.
Ad-Block Plus – Woohoo! And a big uh, oh to advertisers and publishers. As a consumer, I love this tool for uncluttering websites. As a blogger, I hate this tool for drying up my income. This extension blocks ads on sites and blocks Hulu ads as well. If you start to feel guilty (which you should) when visiting a site you love, click on the stop sign and uncheck block ads on this site so that everyone can make a decent living.
Ah, Greasemonkey, the tool for everyone. Nearly everyone I know uses Greasemonkey, a versatile add-on that in itself has thousands of tools that you can add. It’s a way of adding scripts to webpages, which lets you change the look, feel, and usefulness of any website to your heart’s content.
Here a some of my favorite Greasemonkey scripts:
Disable Google Reader’s “Like” Feature– I love Google Reader, but its latest push to make the site more social drove me crazy. I didn’t like the like feature one bit. Not surprisingly, Google Reader neglected to give an option to turn it off. But this extension simply removes that annoying feature.
Linkify Ting– Ever been on a site, see a link, but found that the link was unclickable? The person behind the scenes neglected to make it a hyperlink? Yeah, me too. And luckily for us, the author of this tool got fed up with it. Very simply, Linkify Ting makes everything that should be a link, a link.
digg- add mirrors– Just as it sounds, this tool allows you to easily find mirrors to Digg articles that have been taken down by the overwhelming clicks.
Twitter Search Results on Google– Twitter search is surprisingly helpful. I guess that is why they made the front page a Twitter search box. When you are searching Google, maybe for a problem or an issue you have been having, Twitter search for Google comes in handy. It provides a little box above the Google search results with Twitter search results, so that you can see that 20 other people are experiencing the same WordPress problem. One annoying thing: there is a small delay in the adding of the Twitter search box to the window, which can lead to misclicks.
I am not going to go into a large explanation of how I setup my toolbars (I did that here). But I will talk a bit about the only two toolbars I use.
Google Toolbar – Google toolbar does a couple of things that I really like.The first is autofill. Autofill allows you to automatically fill in forms with your information. You can add different profiles: one for work, one for home. You can also choose to add your credit card number, which I do not like (due to security concerns). You can also quickly see your Gmail messages and calender entries. Best of all, the Google toolbar allows you to sync settings between computers, using your Google ID, which can come in very handy.
Bookmarks Toolbar – My bookmarks toolbar, which I just merged with my Google toolbar, is another component of my browser. I use it to get places fast. Now, I must admit, that you could simply use Firefox’s keyword browsing, but I prefer to click on my sites.
Your turn – what’s running in your browser? And do you want to contribute your own post? Do it to it!